By Lisa Capobianco
Town employees and members of the Board of Education, along with UConn Professor Thomas Worthley, put on their boots and hard hats to take part in a timber harvest at Crescent Lake last week.
Prof. Worthley from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources cut down at least five ash trees as part of the town’s ongoing forestry maintenance project, and milled logs into lumber for Southington High School’s vocational agriculture (vo-ag) and technical education departments.
About a dozen students from the vo-ag department spent the morning hours learning the basics of felling trees and safety issues from Professor Worthley. Pat O’Keefe, a teacher of the Carl M. Vocational Agriculture Center, said he hopes to apply what he learned from Professor Worthley to the classroom.
“What we are learning today—we can bring to students in the classroom,” O’Keefe said. “Students will benefit from this project, and hopefully we can return some lumber to the town.”
Juniors Kelly Toomey, of Southington, and Donald Pringle, of Waterbury, who are students in the vo-ag program, observed the demonstration at Crescent Lake. The students said it was a great opportunity to enhance what they have learned in class.
“It was eye-opening—I did not realize how much work was put into milling,” Pringle said. “I did not know there was so much lumber equipment involved,” Toomey said.
Town Councilor Dawn Miceli also learned from the milling process. Calling the project “experiential learning” that will serve as a real-life application for vo-ag students, Miceli said the project is a win-win for students and the town as a whole.
“It is a sharing of resources between the town and the Board of Education,” Miceli said. “We are providing lumber that taxpayers do not have to pay for the school.”
Miceli and Professor Worthley also said this is just a small project within a larger project for the town that would involve a commercial operation at Crescent Lake, which has withered trees from previous storms as well as other plants that pose environmental threats including the Japanese Barberry that attracts ticks, which carry Lyme disease.